In the past six months, we’ve gone from world leaders saying there was no major threat from Wuhan to a rip-roaring pandemic. We’ve seen medical experts say that only the elderly and the immune-compromised were at risk, to learning of perfectly healthy people dying from the disease. We’ve been told that wearing a mask is unimportant, to wearing a mask is very, very, very important.

Now we’re seeing various governors arbitrarily decide to keep their states open in the face of increased outbreaks (but maybe they’ll close their states in a week or two, depending), while Wall Street shouts that the worst is over as 20 million people remain unemployed.

If ever there was a time to question authority, this is it.

Looking back, mass confusion is not a new phenomenon; it breeds a group of so-called “experts” who take to the airwaves to tell you what to do next.  From politicians to religious leaders, opinion columnists, business gurus, life coaches, self-help authors, movie critics: Here’s a set of professional guidance counselors that outwardly preach the ability to “live your best life” by following their expert tips.  Yet when in their homes with the shades drawn, they are just as confused, foul-mouthed, and imperfect as you are. 

Perhaps more so.  Scratching their backsides, yelling at their kids, sneaking glances at pornography, greedy for more wealth and power — just like everybody! Remember, despite their confident, toothy grins, these “experts” are not their book jacket photos.

So what is the “truth”?* Which facts do we embrace? Or is life just a lucky guess after all?

What they (and you) can learn from current events is to laugh at the human condition, chortle at our constant foibles, and re-think what makes you happy in the first place.

One way to start? Ignore everything an “expert” says on a cable news show. As Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, put it: “Let it be your maxim through life, to know all you can know yourself, and never to trust implicitly the information of others.”

NOTE: The only advice you should follow is your own personal truth.  With just this secret alone, you are nine times more likely to find it! (Oh, and wear a mask. That should go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway.)

News conferences, state dinners, ribbon-cutting, photo ops…political leaders spend an inordinate amount of time stage-managing ceremonies intended to commemorate their successes.

Small wonder, since they wouldn’t have ventured into the business of pressing flesh and begging for votes unless they were eager for attention.  Yet their day-to-day activities pale in comparison to how much effort they put into planning their last rites.

Take John McCain.  He spent a full 8 months designing an elaborate ceremony to honor…John McCain.

As the New York Times reported, “He obsessed over the music…choreographed the movement of his coffin from Arizona, his home state, to Washington. And…began reaching out to Republicans, Democrats and even a Russian dissident with requests that they deliver eulogies and serve as pallbearers.”

Now we don’t want to cast aspersion on John McCain’s motives for this four-day tribute to John McCain.  He was a war hero and served the people of Arizona for much of his time on earth. And there is the thumb in the eye his ceremony is intended to administer to the current president.   (We can only imagine the services Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer are planning for themselves.)

The question is, why should a grandiose spectacle be reserved only for those who spend their lives courting the limelight?  Over-the-top memorials need not be the sole provenance of movie actors, senators, and members of the Catholic archdiocese.  The unsung heroes of this country deserve special treatment as well.  (Our definition of “hero” being anyone who puts up with various attention-seekers while going about the business of surviving this current age of unreason. Namely, all of us!)

So we encourage you to begin planning your personal requiem now.  Start putting aside a few bucks every week earmarked for “My Send-off.” Begin writing a set of instructions for your big day — or days — that specifies what you’d like to have occur. Fireworks, tap-dancing, power boat races: It’s all fair game. Swap these instructions with your best friend. Whichever of you goes first, the other will circle the wagons (loaded with plenty of food and beverages, since you’ll want to attract a crowd beyond mourners who actually know you).

Research the rules in your community for throwing a parade where your remains are the main attraction. A brass band helps attract attention; an ice cream truck is also a nice touch.  The parade need not stretch for miles; you can just have your pals walk your body up and down the street in front of your apartment.

As for the coffin, why settle for the standard rectangular box?  Better to be carried aloft in something that really represents your life. Have a custom wood-worker come up with something shaped like an airplane (if you’re a pilot) or a fish (if you’re an angler).  A life-sized Gibson Les Paul with starburst finish? Why not?

You may find that once you start planning this great event, you won’t want to miss it by being deceased.  So don’t wait! Have your funeral in advance, while you’re still alive to enjoy it.  “Playing dead” is way more fun than being dead.  At least, that’s what the ghosts in our life have told us.

*Don’t forget to give your loved ones something to remember you by.  In South Korea, many opt to compress their remains into gem-like beads which are then colorfully displayed at home.